Pippa Elliott
Dr Pippa Elliott (BVMS MRCVS, University of Glasgow)
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The Sheltipoo, also known as the Sheltidoodle, is a hybrid dog: the result of breeding a Shetland Sheepdog with a Poodle. The pups may inherit characteristics from either parent, and are typically a medium sized dog that is both intelligent and active. They are a polite and loving dog but can be anxious in unfamiliar situations.

The Sheltipoo has some guarding and herding instincts, which paired with nervousness, may make them over-reactive in a rowdy household. On the plus side, the Sheltipoo enjoys obedience training and loves to spend time with their owner. Health problems include a leaning towards hip dysplasia, eyesight issues, and bloat.

About & History

The Sheltipoo is such a newcomer on the scene that their story belongs to that of the parent breeds.

The Shetland Sheepdog

The Shetland Sheepdog is one of several herding-type dogs with their origins on the Shetland Isles. Knowledge of exactly who were their founding ancestors has been lost in the mists of time, but it seems plausible these include dogs that accompanied seafaring visitors from Scandinavia and Iceland.

The Sheltie was officially recognised as a breed in 1909. However, at this time, they were called the Shetland Collie, a name that was changed a few years later to avoid confusion with the Rough Collie.

The Poodle

For such a well-known breed, the origins of the Poodle is something of an enigma. Popularly known as the French Poodle, their true origins are less clear and likely to include Germany and Spain. Originally a hunting dog, their bouffant coat had the practical purpose of protecting their joints as they plunged through course scrubland. Indeed, the word poodle is thought to arise from a German word ‘pudel’ for puddle, and reflects their working heritage.


Both parent breeds have a distinct appearance and are arguably two of the most instantly recognised dogs in existence. Sheltipoo pups may range in appearance from strongly favouring one or other of their parents to looking like a true-blend of both.

Those pups that are a true mix will be a medium sized dog, with a light build that is part hidden by a long shaggy coat. They have a narrow forehead, with a long snout, and triangular-shaped drop ears. They have an athletic shaped body with a deep chest and tucked up waist, likely to be topped off by a straight tail. The whole effect is topped off by an abundant coat of medium to long hair, which left untrimmed gives the dog a distinctly shaggy appearance. Coat colours are most likely to be black, brown, blue, grey, red, or a combination of these with white.

Character & Temperament

The Sheltipoo could be described as a slightly anxious gentleman. They are well-mannered and appreciate being treated in a respectful manner. However, they can be prone to anxiety and may be timid in unfamiliar surroundings. In common with most dogs, when ill-at-ease, their response may be to snap to protect themselves, which can appear to the uninformed as aggression. Thus, they make a great companion for a calm household or a patient owner that enjoys dog training (as a highly intelligent dog they enjoying obedience training). However, they are not a suitable dog for a chaotic household or those with young children.

That said, the Sheltipoo is a people-centric dog that likes to be constantly in their owner’s company. They can become anxious when left alone, so it is helpful to get the young pup to spend time in their own company, to help them cope as an adult.


The Sheltipoo’s parent breeds are both highly intelligent and enjoy the mental stimulation of training. Thus the Sheltipoo loves to engage in the one-to-one attention of reward-based training. The result is a well-trained dog that is firmly bonded with their owner.

This also has benefits with regards to an inclination towards timidity in unfamiliar surroundings. A calm owner that gives clear cues will help to reassure an anxious dog that everything is under control and there’s nothing to be concerned about.


As a hybrid dog there is a lack of data specific to their health problems. However, it is fair to extrapolate information from the parent breeds, since they may pass certain genetic predispositions down to their pups.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia refers to poorly formed hip joints that clunk when the dog moves, which creates inflammation and pain. Some breeds have genes that code for poor hip anatomy, which are then passed down to the next generation. It is therefore wise to source a pup from parents that have hip radiographs and found to have healthy joints.

Bloat or Gastric Dilation and Volvulus (GDV)

The sleek shape of the Sheltipoo is in part down to a narrow, deep chest. Unfortunately, this body conformation predisposes to bloat or GDV. This potentially life-threatening condition occurs when the stomach flips over on itself, sealing gas inside.

Symptoms include retching but without producing any vomit, restlessness, and a distended belly. Any owner that suspects their dog may have bloat should seek emergency veterinary care.

Eye Abnormalities

Both parent breeds are prone to eye conditions that can cause blindness in early life, sometimes even before their first birthday. The conditions include Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA) whereby some pups are born blind, and Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA). Sadly, there is no treatment for these conditions and the owner is best advised to help their pet adapt to life without sight.

Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes mellitus, or sugar diabetes, results when the hormone insulin does not adequately control blood glucose levels. Symptoms include excessive thirst that can result in puddles in the house, and weight loss despite a good appetite. Untreated, the condition deteriorates and causes cataracts to form and a form of self-poisoning called ketosis.

Diabetes can be controlled with regular insulin injections and careful dietary management. However, this does require a dedicated owner and can be expensive.

Exercise and Activity Levels

The Sheltipoo is best summed up as ‘quick and clever’. They an agile breed, in both mind and body that loves to show-off their athletic ability and enjoys dog-centric sports, such as agility. They appreciate regular long walks and some time off the lead to run and play fetch. A wise owner provides an outlet for the Sheltipoo’s quick wits, and teaches them tricks or perhaps pursues obedience training to a competitive level.


The Sheltipoo is a tale of two coats types. The Poodle coat is long, wavy hair that doesn’t shed much and never stops growing. Whereas the Sheltie coat has a thick undercoat that sheds like a blizzard, with longer straight outer guard hairs. The Sheltipoo coat may borrow heavily from either parent or be a mix of the two.

Thus, the Sheltipoo may need regular trims (as per the Poodle) and shed lightly, or not require trimming but sheds heavily (as for the Shetland Sheepdog). Whatever coat type they inherit, regular brushing helps keeps tangles at bay and captures shed hair on the comb rather than the cushions.

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